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What's the most effective kind of ad campaign for ballet companiesWhat do you like? What don't you like?


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#16 kfw

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 10:58 AM

Over on the NYCB Opening Night Gala Spring 2010 thread, abatt writes

I thought Millipied's new ballet (with its pretentious title, "Why Am I Not Where You Are") was a disappointment.

I don't like the title either, or the idea of giving ballets titles that sound like novels or short stories, but I wonder if the practice won't catch on as a way to bring in young audiences.

#17 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 05:20 AM

Well, this seemed to have worked for the Joffrey:

On Aug. 18, the Groupon online “deal of the day” offered discounted subscriptions to the upcoming season of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. Within 24 hours, 2,338 people had taken the bait, the Joffrey announced the following day in a press release. To offer some perspective, the Joffrey had about 4,900 subscribers on Aug. 17. In other words, the ballet company saw a nearly 50 percent increase in its subscription base in one day.



#18 Helene

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 05:46 AM

The only arts-related one I've seen in Seattle or Vancouver has been Vancouver Opera's for a single performance "Lillian Alling", a commission from John Estacio (music) and John Murrell (libretto) that opens in October. I joined Vancouver Groupon when it launched, but Seattle was already going strong, and I might have missed earlier ones from there.

Hopefully they'll get decent retention next year, but they shouldn't expect the kinds of renewal rates they get from their loyal base. I'd love to see the P&L and long-term results on this one. It's interesting because unlike magazine subscriptions (apart from newsletters), the publisher expects to break even at the [n]th renewal, mainly based on the cost of acquisition (print and other media ads, direct mail packages, insert cards, cut to Publisher's Clearinghouse, etc.), the cost of acquisition is time spent to set it up with Groupon. I don't know Groupon's cut or the payout schedule, but the incremental cost of the new subscriptions is administrative, ticket and program printing, and mailing, and, if they have to open up a new section, more ushers.

#19 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 06:47 AM

The only arts-related one I've seen in Seattle or Vancouver has been Vancouver Opera's for a single performance "Lillian Alling", a commission from John Estacio (music) and John Murrell (libretto) that opens in October. I joined Vancouver Groupon when it launched, but Seattle was already going strong, and I might have missed earlier ones from there.

Hopefully they'll get decent retention next year, but they shouldn't expect the kinds of renewal rates they get from their loyal base. I'd love to see the P&L and long-term results on this one. It's interesting because unlike magazine subscriptions (apart from newsletters), the publisher expects to break even at the [n]th renewal, mainly based on the cost of acquisition (print and other media ads, direct mail packages, insert cards, cut to Publisher's Clearinghouse, etc.), the cost of acquisition is time spent to set it up with Groupon. I don't know Groupon's cut or the payout schedule, but the incremental cost of the new subscriptions is administrative, ticket and program printing, and mailing, and, if they have to open up a new section, more ushers.


I'd love to do the spreadsheet on this one. The cost in terms of forgone ticket revenue would need to be weighed against the cost of other kinds of marketing -- print ads, e.g., or discounted single tickets, or the kind of free, outdoor, big-screen broadcasts the Met puts on. As it is, the Joffrey has already gotten several column inches of free press. (As has Groupon, of course ... the Joffrey ought to ask them for a discount. :wink:)

I imagine that the buzzy success of the Groupon offer is good marketing to the board and other potential donors, too. It makes the point that there is an audience for serious dance out there -- i.e., that the big donors' bucks aren't just keeping a dying art alive on life support.

#20 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 08:35 AM

Ballet is not affordable. One of the successes of the Florida Grand Opera vs. MCB is the way they handle student discounts, opera packages-(5 operas for the price of 4), rush tickets-(50 % off 30 minutes before the performance)-and in general lower prices than those of the ballet-(you can buy a $10.00 ticket, even if it is all the way up).
Every time I try to promote ballet performances among, let's say, my coworkers, some of them in the range of minimum wage, the first thing they ask me is How much...?
When faced with the reality of cost, they immediately put the conversation to an end.

The most effective campaign for ballet is the one that hasn't happened...to make it affordable to the average Joe.

#21 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 09:58 AM

Ballet is not affordable. One of the successes of the Florida Grand Opera vs. MCB is the way they handle student discounts, opera packages-(5 operas for the price of 4), rush tickets-(50 % off 30 minutes before the performance)-and in general lower prices than those of the ballet-(you can buy a $10.00 ticket, even if it is all the way up).
Every time I try to promote ballet performances among, let's say, my coworkers, some of them in the range of minimum wage, the first thing they ask me is How much...?
When faced with the reality of cost, they immediately put the conversation to an end.

The most effective campaign for ballet is the one that hasn't happened...to make it affordable to the average Joe.


Everything live is expensive. Want to see the Yankees play the Orioles tonight? Unless you want to sit in the bleachers or the very tip-top of the grandstand, those tickets will cost you between $48-$300. Those $300 seats aren't even in the luxury boxes. (The cheapest grandstand seats, which are so far away from the action that they are barely in the Bronx, cost $20.) Want to see Shakira at Madison Square Garden? That will cost you between $149.50-$39.50. (Alice in Chains is a little cheaper; tickets for their upcoming MSG show go for $75-$39.50.) Taking the family to a game at Yankee Stadium or a concert at MSG is an expensive proposition even before you throw in the cost of transportation and refreshments.

My 1st ring center NYCB tix look like a relative bargain in comparison; 4th ring tix -- $35 for rows C-K center or $20 for rows C-K sides or rows L-O center -- are a bargain plain and simple. The view from there is much better than the view from the top or even second-to-last tier at Yankee Stadium. (The sound at the Garden stinks no matter where you sit.) My ticket to see Avatar in 3-D cost just $2 less than the lowest-priced NYCB ticket. It's affordable to see the ballet, just not from the very best seats -- but in a well-designed venue like NYST / Koch, the not-best seats can still be decent. How much cheaper would they have to be for folks not to cite price as the reason they don't go?

I'm not disputing that the cost of ballet tickets can be high - just pointing out that the cost of tickets to anything is high, and that the arts aren't really more prohibitively expensive than anything else. Live Nation sales are way off this year, and the high price of tickets have been cited as one of the main drivers.

#22 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 10:23 AM

I agree. Super prohibitive prices for sports and arena concerts probably make look ballet prices less prohibitive...but the thing is, at the end of the story they're ALL still prohibitive for the average American.

#23 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 11:02 AM

I agree. Super prohibitive prices for sports and arena concerts probably make look ballet prices less prohibitive...but the thing is, at the end of the story they're ALL still prohibitive for the average American.


Agreed - I don't see how a family trip to a ball game can be anything more than a once-in-a-blue-moon treat. Pricing is surely one reason why minor league ballparks are a hit with families.

And in the case of live sports, you're paying a hefty premium for atmosphere. If I want to see "Serenade" at all -- be it from prime seats or no -- I have to go to a live performance. If I want to see CC Sabathia' change-up, I'm probably better off perched in front of a big-screen TV at the local sports bar than I am perched in the upper grandstand. And the popcorn is free at the bar.

#24 volcanohunter

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 11:12 AM

It's affordable to see the ballet, just not from the very best seats

I also agree. Generally, when I tell friends how much it costs to see the ballet, opera or symphony, they're astonished at how little the cheap seats cost. These people often make less than average, but are nevertheless willing to pay through the nose to get great seats to rock concerts because they love the bands, simple as that. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to let people know that tickets to the ballet can be bought cheap, but I'm afraid that the bigger obstacle would be persuading those same people that it's worth going to see in the first place. (I once nearly persuaded a friend to come to the ballet with me, except that she'd already spent a small fortune to go see Leonard Cohen that night.)

#25 Helene

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 03:07 PM

I just got a letter from AAA (Washington) with a picture of a nutcracker driving a tow truck and the tag line: "No, Nutcracker won't give you a tow, but he will give you 20% off Nutcracker tickets" for PNB's "Nutcracker" through 22 September. And there are no blackout dates.

That's got to reach a wide audience.

#26 bart

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 03:32 PM

Great discussion. Thanks to all.

If I want to see "Serenade" at all -- be it from prime seats or no -- I have to go to a live performance.

A big problem problem is that there are relatively few people in the general population who "want" to see Serenade particularly. In my experience, people with limited entertainment budgets are not often prone to be experimental. They want a sure thing, a known entity, a safe investment. Often this means seeing something they already know or -- as in the case of sporting events or pop culture -- something they are familiar enough with to know they will enjoy.

Works like Nutcracker or Swan Lake have broad brand-name recognition (though I did see only last week a reference in a reputable newspaper to someone having danced "The Dying Swan in Swan Lake.")

In contrast, relatively few people have the kind of experience with and education in ballet that would allow them to choose confidently from offerings of less familiar ballet programs.


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